Author Topic: How Brokeback could Sweep the Oscars  (Read 5611 times)

Offline ethan

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How Brokeback could Sweep the Oscars
« on: Feb 04, 2006, 12:48 AM »
BBM fans, you will like this article. I hope the "theories" in this article will turn out true.

February 03, 2006
The Ghosts of James Dean & Matthew Shepherd Haunt the Oscars

How Brokeback could sweep the Oscars
By Stephen Holt, the Stephen Holt Show, New York City


(Warning: spoilers contained herein)

One thing is sure of the Academy Awards or AMPAS as they are called here on Oscarwatch. They do not like the Golden Globes, the SAG awards or the Broadcast Film Critics Association, and any of the other awards shows that have stolen their thunder, copied their awards, ripped off their format and have made life generally difficult in terms of viewership and ratings for their all-important Big Night on March 5.

I mean, they REALLY don’t like them. They consider them Award Overkill and wish they would all go away. But they’re not. The Golden Globes particularly are here to stay. They received, rightly or wrongly, more coverage this year than ever before – predictions, a four-page full color pull-out in Entertainment Weekly –yet! Magazine covers, red carpet coverage, air-time on all the entertainment shows, and a reverence that they really don’t deserve, or so think the revered members of the Academy.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is made up of 80 or so notoriously corrupt nut-jobs, mostly free-lancers, almost all part-timers, who make their livings in other ways, like waitering. And are notorious for their “crossing the Alps for a hot-dog” tag that still applies. And one of their membership killed himself this year when they rescinded his credentials.

The SAG membership is not necessarily the same membership as the Acting Branch of the Academy. Being a member of the Screen Actors Guild does not guarantee entry into the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Far from it. The main voters for the SAG awards are your average actor on the street. Again, lots of part-timers. People who occasionally work, but most of the time, are doing the same part-time jobs as the HFPA are. Waitering. Think about it.

AMPAS are the real professionals, and there is not a critic or journalist among them, though there are a small number of publicists.

You get into AMPAS by being nominated for an Oscar or winning one. The other way in is very mysterious, complicated series of recommendations and approvals. Getting into the Academy is purposefully hard. The people who are in it view it as a lifetime’s achievement. They feel they have really earned the right to say what is best in film, because they have spent their lives working in it, and their standards, they would like to think, are the highest.

And certainly, NO Academy member will admit to giving the Golden Globes or the SAG awards any credence, whatsoever, when they are filling out their ballots. This is especially true in the main acting categories.

And I can tell you that they will hesitate this year more than any other, when it comes to something that may seem like they are Rubber Stamping yet again the abhorred HFPA and the anybody-can-vote SAGS. Two years ago, the same four people, Sean Penn, Charlize Theron, Tim Robbins and Renee Zellweger won the Golden Globes AND the Oscars. It made for a very boring evening. I think the opposite is going to happen this year.

I think “Brokeback Mountain” is so far ahead of the pack that it’s Best Picture and Best Director wins are locked as locked can be. But what about the other major categories? I think “Brokeback” could continue to sweep all of them that they are nominated in.

So Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel Weisz and Paul Giamatti better not start counting their chickens just yet.

As Steven Spielberg’s sister said to me at an early screening of “Munich” when we discussed her brother’s film being left off the Globe’s Best Picture list in December. I asked her how did that snub impact Munich's Oscar chances? And she wisely answered, “Oh, they are an entirely different bunch of people from the Academy. ENTIRELY.”

And it was apparent from her tone of voice that she clearly did not like the former, and DID like the latter.

And she seemed confident that the Academy would properly honor her brother’s difficult, controversial film, and y’know what? She was right.

This is how I see “Brokeback Mountain,” the long-time front-runner for Best Picture and Director could also sweep the acting awards this year.

Ask yourself. Which really is the greater acting performance? Which role has the greater degree of difficulty? That’s a standard question the Academy voters always ask themselves when it comes time to vote on their top acting honors. And sometimes, especially this year, it’s a very hard, hair-splitting decision.

Is it Heath Ledger’s heart-rending, iconic gay cowboy that shatters stereotypes or Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s impersonation of Truman Capote that re-inforces them?

Well, for one thing, one performance consisted of the actor (Ledger) creating an unforgettable character from simply his own artistry, his imagination, a great director’s vision and lines on a page. And not many lines at that. Or the other actor’s (Hoffman) studying and perfectly mimicking the lisping and mincing of a late queer personality/author who was readily available to him via an multitude of TV talk show tapes from the ‘70s? Doing a Truman Capote imitation is NOT that hard.

And when fictional screen characters’ NAMES actually pass into the world’s vocabulary and discussion , the way the names ENNIS DEL MAR(Ledger) and JACK TWIST( Jake Gyllenhaal) have, you know the actors concerned have hit the bull’s-eye of cinema greatness. That is a very, very rare occurrence. And with the landmark, and now money-making “Brokeback Mountain”, these remarkable and brave young men have both put their careers on the line, giving the performances of their lives, and are making screen history. Their two performances ARE the film. It IS the gay “Gone With the Wind.”

And the Academy knows this. It looks more than a little disingenuous to award Best Picture and Best Director to a film and then honor none of its actors, like the Golden Globes did. I think the much older and wiser Academy will correct this this year.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s “Capote” is an imitation, an impersonation. Brilliantly done, but an imitation nonetheless. And last year the Academy awarded TWO celebrity impersonators, Jamie Foxx for his lip-synching “Ray” and Cate Blanchett’s Best Supporting turn as Katherine Hepburn in “The Aviator.”

And they’ve been criticized for this. What happened to great performances? Great Impersonation is a lesser art, if it is an art at all, or more correctly a SKILL. It’s someone having a good ear. It’s just copying. It’s the Cliff Notes of Acting. Great acting is something else entirely.

Where are the earth-shattering, original interpretations of great roles? Well, this Oscar season we have one, if not two. And they are both in the same movie. And they are playing two men in love. With each other.

The New York Times called Heath Ledger’s performance as Ennis Del Mar on a par with “Marlon Brando and Sean Penn at his best.” The Academy, I’m sure, took note of this.

They also compared him to “the young James Dean.” These are astonishing, and impossible for the Academy to ignore accolades.

Dean never won an Oscar though he was nominated for “East of Eden”(1955) and “Giant”(1956). Both posthumously. The Academy needs to be reminded of this, and better hope that does not happen again.

Marlon Brando’s performance as Stanley Kowalski in “Streetcar Named Desire” was considered groundbreaking and changed the style of world-acting forever. He also did not get an Oscar for it in 1951, though his co-stars Vivien Leigh, Kim Hunter and Karl Malden all did. (He lost to Humphrey Bogart in “The African Queen.”) The Academy corrected this later with Brando’s two Oscars for “On the Waterfront” in ‘54 and “The Godfather” in ’72.

This bodes well for Ledger’s terrific co-stars Jake Gyllenhaal, the tragic Jack Twist, and Ledger’s real life fiancée Michelle Williams as Ennis’s abandoned wife, Alma.

Actually, Gyllenhaal is in the most up-in-the-air category of all, Supporting Actor. I do not think the Academy has any particular love for Paul Giamatti, whom they already have snubbed twice, and who they very well may overlook again. I do not think they liked “Sideways” very much. Certainly not as much as the critics groups and SAG did. And his performance in the Big Flop of the Year “Cinderella Man” is very capable, but not “an Academy performance.” They do use that word when talking about these distinctions. Yes, they do. Does the Academy want TWO schlubs accepting their two Best Actor Oscars this year? He and the equally unkempt Phillip Seymour Hoffman? I don’t think so. And so, Giamatti finds himself on very shaky ground this year. The nomination was his honor. They’ve let him in the club. The Buck stops there.

And King George Clooney will be honored with the consolation prize of Best Original Screenplay with his writing partner and producer of “Good Night and Good Luck” Grant Heslov. It’s the Sofia Coppola Award for a small film that they want to honor, and Clooney is someone they really, REALLY want to see up on that stage. Like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck before him (for “Good Will Hunting”), the dashing Mr. Clooney will be very happily accommodated in this category. And not also in Best Supporting Actor for "Syriana."

This leaves Jake the Great to be rewarded here. AND he dies at the end. In a manner not unlike the horrible demise of the late Matthew Shepherd. Annie Proulx’s short story eerily predicted Shepherd’s appalling hate-crime death a year before it happened.

One of the things people are not talking about is that “Brokeback Mountain” is more than a gay love story. It’s the story of an horrific hate crime - set in the same Blood Red State of Wyoming. Matthew Shepherd’s tragedy haunts us all, and I really do feel his spirit is powerfully, quietly driving the impact “Brokeback Mountain” home to audiences, who may not even be aware of it. His soul cries out for justice and the Academy may hear that plaintive cry echoing down the ages in Jack Twist’s equally horrifying mutilation and murder.

And Jake Gyllenhaal could win an Oscar for it. He should.

And Rachel Weisz? Well, her winning both the Globe and The SAG award for Best Supporting Actress may, odd as it sounds, be seen as encumbrance in this now-supposedly-all-locked up category. The Rubber Stamp Effect could go into action here, particulalry, and Weisz, as wonderful as she is in the LEADING role of the activist wife in “The Constant Gardner” is the front-runner nominee they may most hesitate voting for. It’s not a supporting role, and the Academy may feel like the year that Cate Blanchett was first nominated (for “Elizabeth I”) opposite the Golden Child of Hollywood Gwyneth Paltrow for “Shakespeare in Love.” Cate was a Hollywood newbie then. They didn’t “know her,” so therefore they’d make her wait and see if indeed she really was a star after all. Now, they know her and love her and gave her her Oscar last year for “The Aviator.”

ANOTHER impersonation of a famous dead person.

Of all the nominated performances in “Brokeback Mountain” Michelle William’s anguished Alma is the easiest one for the Academy to award. The long-suffering wife is an archetype the Academy has awarded over and over again. (Jennifer Connelly in “Beautiful Mind”, etc. etc.)

And finally, the Academy likes to think of itself as a family, and at the moment Ms. Weisz is the beautiful stranger, the foreigner, who has only really come to their attention through “The Constant Gardener.” In yet again, the role of the tortured wife. Who also is murdered. These are all pluses.

But the fact that she won the Golden Globe AND the SAG could in this year of plummeting box-office receipts, and a generally nervous industry, may mean she doesn’t win, too. Who is she after all? Most of the American audience will not know her, and therefore not be rooting for her.

Lauren Bacall thought that she would win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress when she won both the SAG and the Globe for “The Mirror Has Two Faces” and everybody else did, too. Then she shockingly lost to Juliette Binoche, who was in the Best Picture that year, “The English Patient” another tragic, epic romance. The same genre, if not gender, as “Brokeback.” Blanchett in “The Aviator”. Binoche in “The English Patient.” There’s a pattern here. A Best Picture nomination can pull a Supporting Actress to a win.

Michelle Williams is someone they feel like they’ve watched grow up. They’ve “known her” for over for ten years, since she first appeared as an already fine teenage actress on “Dawson’s Creek.” She, like, the raised-in-a-popular-Hollywood-family Jake G., is One of Them. And now, she’s just had the new James Dean’s baby!

If they unfortunately hesitate over the two male lovers, Williams is the one they will feel most comfortable awarding. And they’ll wait and see if Rachel Weisz is a star before giving her an Oscar.

All in all the “Brokeback” wave is building to tsunami-sized proportions, even at the box-office, where it is sweeping all previous records for in its path. And it could sweep its three great nominated performers, Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michelle Williams to the podium for a VERY surprising, exciting, emotion-packed awards show March 5. Which is just what Oscar needs. NOT the predictable parade of Rubber Stamps to the stage. No. Oh no.

They need to cite these three talented young performers who have created between them a miracle and the stuff of cinematic legend.

Oscarwatch.com
« Last Edit: Feb 04, 2006, 03:30 AM by ethan »
Remembering Pierre (chameau) 1960-2015, a "Capricorn bro and crazy Frog Uncle from the North Pole." You are missed

Offline Kindred

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Re: How Brokeback could Sweep the Oscars
« Reply #1 on: Feb 04, 2006, 10:02 AM »
Thank you.  Nice review.

/crosses fingers

Offline *Froggy*

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Re: How Brokeback could Sweep the Oscars
« Reply #2 on: Feb 04, 2006, 10:04 AM »
Thankx
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Offline jakeofrome

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Re: How Brokeback could Sweep the Oscars
« Reply #3 on: Feb 04, 2006, 10:26 AM »
great read, thanks a lot
"I loved it. Shocking. Surprising. The guy who financed my movie did that too. He's a very mild mannered chap from Minnesota and we'd just screened the latest cut of my film and he asked if I wanted to see it. I was thinking, 'OK, this really square, straight guy,' and he showed me this movie. It's amazing.

"They're really good those boys and they did a great job. It's very brave of them."

Offline jacktwist

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Re: How Brokeback could Sweep the Oscars
« Reply #4 on: Feb 04, 2006, 01:48 PM »
BBM fans, you will like this article. I hope the "theories" in this article will turn out true.
[...]

Oscarwatch.com

It's... so... plausible...

Starting... to... believe...

If only.

Actually, this sounds like the type of article of of we happy few on this board would write if we held a journalist hostage. It would be really great if this were to happen, but I can't get past thinking about that great hinterland of Academy voters, people from way back like Charlton Heston and Red Buttons. I just can't see them going for Brokeback like we have.

But hey, I hope the author of this piece is on the money...
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Offline chameau

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Re: How Brokeback could Sweep the Oscars
« Reply #5 on: Feb 04, 2006, 01:59 PM »
Thanss for posting... wow!

I'm speechless!
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Offline ethan

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Re: How Brokeback could Sweep the Oscars
« Reply #6 on: Feb 05, 2006, 10:56 PM »
You are welcome. No matter what the Oscar outcomes will be, BBM has already WON - big time
Remembering Pierre (chameau) 1960-2015, a "Capricorn bro and crazy Frog Uncle from the North Pole." You are missed

Offline Apollonos

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Re: How Brokeback could Sweep the Oscars
« Reply #7 on: Feb 06, 2006, 02:48 AM »
You are welcome. No matter what the Oscar outcomes will be, BBM has already WON - big time

Yes, it has; but, it would be nice if these wonderful, young actors get the rewards that they so richly deserve. *Keeping all fingers and toes crossed*  ;D

Offline Cowboy Cody

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Re: How Brokeback could Sweep the Oscars
« Reply #8 on: Feb 06, 2006, 09:25 PM »
Great review - Thanks for posting! GO BBM!

My Boys better win or ELSE!
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Offline hidesert

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Re: How Brokeback could Sweep the Oscars
« Reply #9 on: Feb 06, 2006, 10:16 PM »
Good article, but that guy stole ideas from this Board. :-) 

The Academy is independent, fickle, inconsistent etc, etc, etc  But one thing they are masters of is marketing their Academy.  And their marketing talents stretch beyond the US so that almost everyone around the world knows what an "Oscar" is.

Yes I remember the night when Lauren Bacall lost out to Juliette Binoche for Best Supporting Actress.  Juliette Binoche commented on stage that she didn't prepare an acceptance speech, because everyone expected "Lauren" to win.  Bacall did not look happy that night.

I hope BBM makes a clean sweep but I'm also cynical enough to understand that winning an Oscar is not solely based on performance.   


Offline ethan

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Re: How Brokeback could Sweep the Oscars
« Reply #10 on: Feb 06, 2006, 10:22 PM »
hidesert, thanks for your post. I really want to see the big upset of PSH lost to Heath Ledger. That would be another historical Oscar moment.
Remembering Pierre (chameau) 1960-2015, a "Capricorn bro and crazy Frog Uncle from the North Pole." You are missed

Offline Apollonos

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Re: How Brokeback could Sweep the Oscars
« Reply #11 on: Feb 07, 2006, 02:06 AM »
The Academy is independent, fickle, inconsistent etc, etc, etc  But one thing they are masters of is marketing their Academy.  And their marketing talents stretch beyond the US so that almost everyone around the world knows what an "Oscar" is.

As political as the Academy is, you'd think they would be well aware of the fact that, of all the Oscar contenders, only one of them has already had a significant influence on our language and culture, and will probably
be talked about for generations. If the Academy members don't give BBM its due, they're going to look like fools! 

Offline garymcd

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Re: How Brokeback could Sweep the Oscars
« Reply #12 on: Feb 07, 2006, 02:26 AM »
You are welcome. No matter what the Oscar outcomes will be, BBM has already WON - big time

Yes, it has; but, it would be nice if these wonderful, young actors get the rewards that they so richly deserve. *Keeping all fingers and toes crossed*  ;D

your right BBM has already won!  "these wonderful, young actors get the rewards that they so richly deserve" would be? could be!  i hope.  we have all already won,  Oprah has said there is a "BUZZ" about the movie so many times i lost count.
people are talking and it is such a quality film with so many statements on so many levels, at the right time.  don't need a
statue.  IT has hands down won, period! 
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Offline hidesert

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Re: How Brokeback could Sweep the Oscars
« Reply #15 on: Feb 10, 2006, 10:20 PM »
hidesert, thanks for your post. I really want to see the big upset of PSH lost to Heath Ledger. That would be another historical Oscar moment.

That would be one for the Oscar history books since PSH won the Golden Globe and SAG awards.  But those awards don't guarantee an Oscar, so there is still hope for Heath until the envelope is opened on March 5th.
« Last Edit: Feb 10, 2006, 10:28 PM by hidesert »

Offline *Froggy*

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Re: How Brokeback could Sweep the Oscars
« Reply #16 on: Feb 11, 2006, 10:29 AM »
hidesert, thanks for your post. I really want to see the big upset of PSH lost to Heath Ledger. That would be another historical Oscar moment.

That would be one for the Oscar history books since PSH won the Golden Globe and SAG awards.  But those awards don't guarantee an Oscar, so there is still hope for Heath until the envelope is opened on March 5th.

My secret wish!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ;D
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Offline chameau

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Re: How Brokeback could Sweep the Oscars
« Reply #17 on: Feb 11, 2006, 08:04 PM »
hidesert, thanks for your post. I really want to see the big upset of PSH lost to Heath Ledger. That would be another historical Oscar moment.

That would be one for the Oscar history books since PSH won the Golden Globe and SAG awards.  But those awards don't guarantee an Oscar, so there is still hope for Heath until the envelope is opened on March 5th.

My secret wish!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ;D

Big ditto!  :P
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